Report last updated at 1:33 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16
FRAMINGHAM – Yesterday, March 11, the City of Framingham’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity working group held its second meeting. The first was held on March 4.
But a month after the Governor offered help to the 20 hardest hit communities during the pandemic, including Framingham, no plans have been unveiled to the public or many in the City of Framingham’s hardest hit and underserved populations.
On Feb. 16, Gov. Baker announced the Massachusetts “Department of Public Health (DPH) will invest resources directly in the 20 cities and towns most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to increase awareness of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and to reduce barriers to vaccination. DPH will assist each city or town by working with local leaders, and community- and faith-based groups to strengthen existing efforts focused on awareness and overcoming barriers so that residents will get vaccinated when it’s their turn.”
SOURCE reached out to the state on March 5 for specifics and the state directed the digital news media outlet to the press release.
The press release noted: As part of the outreach, a DPH Community Liaison will work to leverage and coordinate state resources and customize a menu of options to be offered to each community, which may include:
- Identifying gaps and mapping available resources to reduce barriers to vaccination
- Coordinating and supporting key stakeholders including Local Boards of Health, local Community and Faith-Based Organizations, Community Health Centers, and Community Health Workers who can support grassroots outreach
- Deploying DPH Vaccine Ambassadors to provide support for town halls and other local forums to share information and materials, including a DPH forum guide and toolkit
- Disseminating culturally appropriate translations of communications campaign materials, including Trust the Facts. Get the Vax. campaign materials and vaccine FAQs in multiple languages
- Hiring local residents to provide “boots on the ground” for neighborhood and local business outreach, which may include a door-knocking campaign to provide information and answer questions about vaccine efficacy and safety
The community liaison assigned to the City of Framingham is Barry Callis.
Callis is the “Director of Behavioral Health and Infectious Disease Prevention for the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In this role, data from health care delivery and population health assessments inform and revise public health responses for those at risk and living with communicable diseases.”
Callis is part of the City of Framingham’s COVID vaccine equity group along with Mayor Yvonne Spicer, Interim Health Director Alex Depalo, and Framingham Chief Public Health Nurse Kitty Mahoney.
No one from the state legislative delegation nor the City Council were invited to be a part of the working group.
The Mayor announced today, March 12, a community hour with DePalo to discuss the COVID vaccine for Tuesday evening, March 16.
When SOURCE reached out to DePalo on the City’s vaccine plans, the Citty’s spokesperson suggested the news outlet watch the community hour.
Other members of that 20+ COVID equity group include:
- Framingham Board of Health Chair Gillian Carcia
- Chief Diversity Officer Maritsa Barros
- Mayor’s senior advisor Hannah Woit
- Framingham Director of Elder Services Grace O’Donnell
- Framingham Fire Chief Michael Dutcher
- MeroWest Medical Center CEO Ava Collins
- Rev. J Anthony Lloyd of the Greater Framingham Community Church
- Framingham Housing Authority Assistant Director Helen Plant
- Paula Kaminow from the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center
- Framingham Public Schools Director of Community Resource Development Tiffanie Lillie
- Framingham Disability Commission Vice Chair Susie Santone
- BRACE’s Liliane Costa
- Ismael Rivera, Justice Resource Institute at Program RISE
- Dr. Milagros Abreu, Latino Health Insurance Program, Inc.
- MWRTA’s Emily VanDewoestine
- MWRTA’s Eva Willens
- MetroWest Nonprofit Network Director Anna Cross
- Maria Rosado with Pelham Learning Center
- Christopher Nunez with Pelham Learning Center
- Tania DiDuca with SMOC
- Jenn Davidson with SMOC
- Discover Hidden Gems Margie Rosario
- Framingham Coronavirus Community Outreach Group Founder Nicole Doak